Monday, February 25, 2008

McKinnie's Miami Problems Could Be Just the Beginning for the Vikings

With the recent release of Vikings' free safety Dwight Smith and what now appears to be the certain release of Troy Williamson prior to the June 1st deadline for retroactive cap assignment of the pro-rated portion of Williamson's signing bonus, the Minnesota Vikings are gradually working their way toward the upper end NFL salary cap allotments. Should the Vikings follow-up their release of Smith by releasing or trading Williamson prior to June 1st, the team would add approximately $4 million to their available cap space in 2008. And, though that still would leave the Vikings well short of the cap space enjoyed by several other teams in the league, the additional cap space would at least afford the Vikings an opportunity to compete for free agents not targeted by winning programs.

Such leverage could not have come at a more propitious time for the franchise. In addition to Smith's release and Williamson's near-certain vanquishment, the Vikings were dealt another dose of reality yesterday when news circulated of another Viking player's run-in with the law.

Monday's early-morning arrest of Vikings' offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, the very real prospect of felony charges being leveled against McKinnie for his alleged beating of a Miami bouncer, and the NFL's increasingly tough public posturing in the face of players' criminal activities, could leave the Vikings searching for yet another starter for the 2008 season.

Should Miami prosecutors charge McKinnie with a felony, the NFL likely immediately would proceed to a review of McKinnie's status as a repeat-offender. Such a review likely would occur well in advance of any trial on the legal issues involved in McKinnie's case and, as well, likely would result in McKinnie receiving a minimum of an eight-game suspension at the beginning of the 2008 NFL season, with the possibility of full-year ban.

While McKinnie has had his difficulties manning the left side of the offensive line, frequently finding opposing ends elusive on the pass rush, he nevertheless would be a difficult presence to replace on such short notice. Worse yet, the loss of McKinnie for any extended period of time likely would give the Vikings' front office and coaching staff cause to explain away any offensive struggles that might arise in 2008.

Up Next: Mounting Concerns for the Vikings and Options for Addressing the Concerns.

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